Watch any session of MotoGP practice and at some point, you will see Valentino Rossi enter the garage, sit down, and start talking animatedly to two people. One, a balding mustachioed red-headed man, is Silvano Galbusera, the crew chief who replaced Jeremy Burgess at the end of 2013. The other, tall, slim, dark-haired, and invariably bearing a laptop, is Matteo Flamigni, Valentino Rossi's data engineer.
Together, this triumvirate work at perfecting a setup for Rossi's Yamaha M1, each with their separate roles. The data engineer seeking out where the bike can be improved, the crew chief finding ways to improve it, and the rider trying to extract the maximum performance from the bike, and telling the other two what he needs to go faster.
At Misano, I spoke to Matteo Flamigni at some length about his job, what it entails, and what it is like working with Valentino Rossi. Flamigni has been with Rossi since the Italian joined Yamaha back in 2004, and has formed a close, almost intimate relationship with the nine-time world champion, four of which Flamigni has had a hand in. We talked about his job, and how it has changed over the years; the precise nature of Rossi's feedback, and what Flamigni has taught Rossi through the years; and why the rider is always right.
Q: First of all, I'd like you to explain your job, explain what you do.
Matteo Flamigni: Basically I’m a data recording engineer, and I’m taking care of the data recording system on the bike. That means we have quite a lot of sensors on the bike that give you many, many different kinds of information. I record and I take all that information in my PC and I analyze that information and try to get the bike performing better and better during the weekend.
Q: Whenever I see you in the garage, it’s you and Valentino and Silvano. You seem to be the core?